Back-to-nature tranquillity meets five-star luxury at the Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara.
Touching down in Salalah, the scent of salt air lingers in the breeze. This corner of Oman’s southernmost Dhofar region is big-sky country, cradled by the mountains and lapped by the sea.
It’s also The Land of Frankincense, where the trees that offer their resin have planted roots running deep through the centuries leaving traces of their fragrance along the trade routes of history.
As we head towards the Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, the flat land gives way to tall coconut palms and banana trees. Dark clouds are gathering but that’s par for the course in Salalah and doesn’t always mean it will rain. Actually, we get our full dose of Vitamin D throughout the weekend.
Arriving at the Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, we’re welcomed with a sweet spoonful of traditional Omani halwa and a cup of cardamom-scented Arabic coffee.
The first pool villa resort in Salalah with 136 rooms and villas — 88 of which are lushly-secluded pool villas — the property is situated at a natural crossroads where a freshwater lagoon meets the sea.
Nearby, just a ten-minute shuttle drive from the hotel, is the Land of Frankincense Museum and Al Baleed Archaeological Park — a 2,500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site where lie the remains of an ancient city that was once the centre of Salalah’s frankincense trade.
It’s this nod to history from which the resort takes its name. The scent of frankincense is ubiquitious; from the ornate lobby down to the lush Amouage bath products found in the rooms.
After a smooth check-in we’re escorted to our One-Bedroom Garden View Pool Villa where we’re greeted by Villa Host, Ma’in. He has decorated our entry-way with beautiful sand art, with our names painted on a frond of dried palm-bark. He greets us with a platter of cut fruits and fresh tender coconuts, and a traditional Thai foot ritual using a salt-scrub and milk.
It’s like we are in our own little world. With lush vegetation around the outdoor area, splashes of green offset the jade-green waters of our private pool. There’s an outdoor canopied bed and small patio table, and an expansive living room in which a gorgeous majlis-style couch and colourful accent pillows point to a kitchenette area that comes with marble sink and all amenities.
A back-door leading off the kitchen leads to a small private back garden while a door to the left beckons the bedroom. There’s a lush king-sized master bed and plush rug, more majlis seating and a large dark-wood dressing area and walk-in closet. Most stunning is the incredible marble bathroom with deep soaker tub and a door from the shower area that leads to the pool outside.
Nods to Omani heritage are everywhere in the resort, and elongated water features inspired by the Sultanate’s historical falaj system abound.
There is also an impressive library where bibliophiles can take out a tome, and relax by the pool or beach reading it.
A stunning pool deck offers unparalleled sightlines, from its infinity pool down to the powdery expanse of a 250-metre private beach boasting white sands like icing sugar.
As surf splashes around our ankles, the sun goes down setting the water alight in shades of salmon and apricot.
A cluster of riders approaches in the distance, mounted on handsome stallions. It’s an image of Arabia so iconic it seems surreal. Only in Salalah.
My favourite place- The Anantara Spa. Its calming interiors radiate frankincense while evoking the open courtyards of traditional Omani dwellings. The dressing area ceilings are open to the air, and calming stone elements and sandy zen gardens endow the space with a cool serenity. Indulging in a traditional hammam experience is a must – and we opt for a 60-minute Anantara Signature Massage with Frankincense Fusion. Our Thai therapist Tuke uses long, smooth strokes coupled with acupressure techniques to ease our tension, loosen muscles, and boost circulation while frankincense oil leaves our skin supple and perfumed.
Highlights- Diners are spoilt for choice, with Sakalan and Al Mina offering inspired Mediterranean options. Then there’s Mekong, the property’s signature Asian restaurant sat on the banks of the lagoon. It’s here we head to for a memorable dinner. With an expansive terrace and adjacent spice garden, the restaurant is decked out in gold and dark lacquered onyx, with orange place settings adding extra vibrancy.
The following morning after a light breakfast at Sakalan, we hit the road with our smiling Omani guide Aziz for a three-hour Salalah Guru tour through the Land of Frankincense. Our tour takes in wadis, mountains and the rugged cliffside beaches – and more than a few herds of roaming camels!
Lowlights- None. Mosquito repellent might be handy in the evenings, though
Souvenirs- Pick up a frankincense burner, a bottle of frankincense oil perfume, boxes of dates or hand-woven Omani scarves and rugs.
Getting there- Oman Air and SalamAir operate daily domestic flights to Salalah.
Where to stay- The Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara is offering guests a unique ‘Extend The Fun’ weekend package inclusive of a luxury Anantara accommodation, daily breakfast and daily buffet or a la carte dinner for two, and complimentary late check-out at 6pm starting from RO148. For more information visit www.anantara.com/al-baleed-salalah
1. Step back in time at Al Baleed Archaeological Site.
2.Visit the blowholes at Mughsail Beach.
3. Learn how frankincense is harvested.
4. Indulge in a Spice Spoons cooking class.
5. Go to the mountaintop tomb of the Prophet Job.